SV650 takes to the track

With high hopes of a morn­ing of high-speed fun, Tony and the bud­get Suzuki head off to Sil­ver­stone

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - Tony.hoare@mo­tor­cy­cle­ TONY HOARE Ex­pe­ri­enced rider and ex-racer who seems to be los­ing his ap­petite for go­ing fast HEIGHT 5ft 10in WEIGHT 95kg

SUZUKI SV650 £5595 FUEL 13.8 litres @ 55.5mpg = 169 miles WEIGHT 197kg SEAT 785mm POWER 75bhp TORQUE 47ftlb

Ihad an im­age in my mind of what the SV650 would be like on track be­fore I even set out for Sil­ver­stone on a damp Thurs­day morn­ing. That im­age had me tuck­ing el­bows, knees and lid be­hind any shel­ter I could find as the SV and I bat­tled our way down the GP cir­cuit’s straights. It also had me div­ing deftly back un­der every­one into the turns as the SV sliced through the cor­ners like a just-un­wrapped scalpel.

De­spite plenty of peo­ple telling me the 75bhp mid­dleweight would be a hope­less tool around the wideopen spa­ces of Sil­ver­stone, I was con­vinced it would be an un­likely track hero. But sadly they were right, and I was wrong.

The lack of straight-line speed wasn’t too big an is­sue as I’d been ex­pect­ing that, and the in­ter­me­di­ate group of our day – Suzuki’s All-star track­day – was rel­a­tively quiet so the num­ber of bikes whizzing past was quite low. The is­sue came with the cor­ners, where the SV’S fan­tasy su­pe­ri­or­ity crum­bled.

A com­bi­na­tion of rusty rider who’s not been on a track for 18 months and is too heavy for the SV’S low­bud­get sus­pen­sion meant cor­ner­ing re­mained a care­ful af­fair even once the clouds drifted away to re­veal track-dry­ing sun­shine.

Forks that dive like an Olympic gold medal win­ner and a shock that squats and re­bounds as if it’s been en­tered into a weightlift­ing com­pe­ti­tion made it dif­fi­cult to feel whether the bike was com­ing or go­ing.

I wasn’t sur­prised when the bloke on the Kawasaki ZZR1400 slid past on the start-fin­ish straight, but thought I’d soon be back on his tail as we ne­go­ti­ated the se­ries of turns that lead to the Hangar Straight. In­stead, af­ter briefly clos­ing up on the brakes through Copse, the well-rid­den ZZR pulled a gap that was even big­ger by the time we hit the end of the straight.

By the end of the ses­sion ZZR man was just about in sight.

Plenty of peo­ple had ear­lier pointed out the SV’S sky­scraper-length foot­peg hero blobs, say­ing I’d bet­ter re­move them for fear of smear­ing them all over Sil­ver­stone’s sur­face. In the first dry ses­sion they didn’t even skim the tar­mac once.

The Con­ti­nen­tal Sport attack 3 tyres, which now have around 3000 miles be­hind them, felt warm and gave me the con­fi­dence to get the throt­tle open once a cor­ner was dis­patched, but the SV lacked the poise to take me through those turns.

So far I’ve tried to avoid re­fer­ring to the SV as ‘the lit­tle Suzuki’ as it seems a pa­tro­n­is­ing phrase that should be re­served for 125s and, at a stretch, 300s. The 650 is a grown-up’s bike that has given me a great deal of plea­sure on the road for 3500 miles. But when it comes to track rid­ing, the SV feels lit­tle. It’s out­pow­ered, out­handled and be­comes the cheap, hum­ble road­ster I’d con­vinced my­self it wasn’t. On the wide-open, straights of Sil­ver­stone the SV and I felt like lit­tle boys lost.

I know it can be dif­fer­ent, as I’ve seen SV650S turn in some ridicu­lous per­for­mances on cir­cuits. Now it’s down to me to get to work on the sus­pen­sion, and some new brake pads prob­a­bly won’t go amiss by the time I’ve in­tro­duced some damp­ing to the front-end.

I’ve given my­self two months to get this sorry state rec­ti­fied with­out cost­ing the earth, and to get an­other track ap­pear­ance booked in. It might not be at Sil­ver­stone, a mag­nif­i­cent cir­cuit when you have a com­bi­na­tion of power and han­dling, but I’m not giv­ing up on the SV. I’ll be back.

Whit was on hand to of­fer ex­pert wis­dom

That Sil­ver­stone lap record isn’t in dan­ger of be­ing bro­ken any time soon

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.